Dobbins, Richard K. (1987, ASQC) Hartboro, PA
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the service quality of various competing businesses during normal circumstances. If you ignore the uniforms worn, and the make of cars handled, one car rental company is much like another regarding the variety of models, rates, and discounts available. Once past the lobbies of metropolitan hotels, it may not be easy to remember which specific national chain you're staying with, unless you check the name on the matchbook covers, or the logo on the bathroom towels. This is not to say that all services provided by national competitors are "vanilla flavored", but rather most offer quite a similar variety of 36 plain-to-exotic selections. What, then, distinguishes an "excellent" service business from the numerous "good" competitors who don't deserve the higher rating?Try comparison under adverse circumstances! How about when the rental car breaks down at 11:15 p.m., Sunday evening, outside Lonesome, Arizona? Or when "mechanical problems" cancel the "friendly skies" in the middle of your tight business travel itinerary? Or when your reserved hotel room is not available, due to unplanned hold-overs from the state Veteran's convention? Under adverse conditions,a service company has the opportunity to vividly display the moral fibre behind the mottoes and pledges found in its advertising brochures. Some companies rise to these demanding occasions in a fashion which far exceeds any reasonable expectations, or sense of "fair play". Others flunk out, pitifully.The very essence of service quality is captured in the customer response voluntarily offered under troubled circumstances, whether your company is at fault, or not. If not handled well, with full consideration of your client's inconvenience, you will probably lose any selective repeat business possibilities, and further tarnished your quality reputation as well. But with prompt and courteous actions designed to overcome the consequence already experienced, you will have gained a faithful business customer, who will also be a vocal booster of your company's service quality posture.